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Steadfastness and Youth

The fifth Annual Young People’s Convention is now a thing of the past but the pleasant memories retained by all who attended shall never be lost from sight. Again it was the privilege of this convention to be convoked by the inspirational message of one whom the President of our Federation properly introduced as a great explorer of Holy Writ, a mighty champion of the Truth, and our leader and friend, the Rev. H. Hoeksema. After a few introductory remarks of congratulations and greeting to the delegates and friends of this convention, he pointed out the true meaning of an inspirational meeting. He stated that it was not his intention to give unto us a long-winded, highly emotional address in which we, his audience, might be sentimentally aroused for a time only, again presently to be left down into the mire of doctrinal havoc, for against this frequently occurring danger we must safeguard ourselves constantly. And thus we did, for only too well we knew from the past that our selected speaker would have nothing of this nature for us. But inspiration we needed and for an inspiration we had gathered. However, that true inspiration, as Rev. Hoeksema clearly stated, is not a matter of the emotion but a matter of the heart and mind. It is only when the spirited content of the Word of God is directed to and touches the inborn, regenerated spirit of God’s people, enlightening their hearts and minds, that there is true spiritual inspiration. Then is there spiritual joy and exaltation of the soul. And that inspiration is worked alone by the Spirit.

The convention theme – Steadfastness – expounded from the viewpoint of “Steadfastness and Youth” by Rev. Hoeksema, was indeed a fitting one for the Covenant Youth of this day. For it is a day which is characterized by unsteadfastness. It was especially necessary at the outset, therefore, that our speaker clearly make known the scriptural meaning of steadfastness. This he did, pointing us not to the natural steadfastness of men by the which they, in spite of many natural hindrances, will constantly pursue the things of their own desires–the world, the lusts, the pride of life–but our attention was centered upon Steadfastness in a spiritual, Christian sense of the word. That is a virtue of grace by the which the believer, constantly and effectually seeks the things of the Kingdom of Heaven and perseveres in that constancy, holding forth that which we have unto the very end. This is not easy, moreover, it is impossible for the natural man to do so, for not only is he unable to seek the things of the Kingdom of God but he of himself belongs to those very things which oppose God and His people. But it is also difficult for the believer for as the term itself indicates, there are presupposed forces which constantly seek to seduce us from that steadfastness. These forces are mighty forces. From within there is our flesh, our old man of sin, our carnal nature and from without is the world and all its appeals which stands altogether against us. We stand alone in the midst of it all and therein we are called to be steadfast. Scripture, the speaker pointed out, abounds with exhortations and instruction in this truth. From them he explained that steadfastness is possible only in the sphere of the covenant of God. That covenant is the covenant of friendship between God and His people. In it we are not contracting parties but we have a specific part to fulfill, for as the Baptism form so beautifully states it, we are called, negatively, to crucify our old nature and positively to walk in a new and holy life. That is Steadfastness.

It is plain that steadfastness is therefore, a matter of the inner life and requires many things. First, to be steadfast requires a spiritual knowledge and a personal appropriation of the truth–the truth of Scripture which we profess and hold dear. To that truth we must cling with all our heart and mind and soul and strength. Secondly, it requires a firmness of will so that all our choice and delight will be directed by the knowledge of the truth and therefore conform to the will of God. Thirdly, we must be established in the confidence of faith so that nothing can turn us back but with assurance unwavering we choose to lose all rather than to lose sight of the Promises. Finally, it follows that, therefore, our hope must be upon the things of heaven and not upon the things that are seen. Then we shall be truly steadfast.

Steadfastness must furthermore, be cultivated that it may be nourished and grow up and we may become thereby the stronger. And to understand how this cultivation takes place, Rev. Hoeksema pointed out the importance of properly understanding that this virtue of grace is rooted in Christ Jesus. From His exalted position He sends forth His Spirit into our hearts and the Spirit implants therein the faith which is necessary unto our steadfastness and fills our hearts with the love whereby we are united with the Captain of our salvation. What then, do we merely sit back and then passively look on while the Spirit worketh? Indeed not, for as Rev. Hoeksema put it, “we do not become stocks and blocks but as moral rational creatures we are conscious of these things and our hearts become filled with new desires and we seek to flee sin and all its implications in order that we may become Steadfast”. Then is there repentance and turning unto God and to His Word for instruction, edification and strength. Then in all spheres of life–the home, church, socially, politically, etc.–we can properly discern the course which we are called upon to follow. It is only then that our Societies,–our Young People’s Societies represented here in Convention–can and should have a place, for they are co-workers in this great task. No, they do not become a catechetical class nor may they be changed into social amusement centers following the clamorings of “Youth for Christ” or “Christian Endeavor” and similar movements but their purpose is to instruct, to build up the immature Youth of the Covenant that they may become more intelligent in the truth that we hold dear. They are the means unto an end. They serve the purpose of preparing us for the assaults that await us.

In conclusion the speaker pointed out the seriousness of the times in which we live and directed our attention to the fact that the signs of these times indicate that the people of God shall be called upon–perhaps very soon–to endure much tribulation. Truly, we could not feel greatly enthused and emotionally inspired by the address as such for these things are not desired by us. And yet, on the other hand great was the inspiration of this evening for him that hath ears to hear, for to him the key of consolation hath been struck for he knoweth that all these things must come to pass, for the end is not yet, but he taketh his refuge in the words of Jesus Who said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world”. Be ye therefore, STEADFAST, UNMOVEABLE, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.